PhD Student “Small steps, giant leaps – Restoring coastal landscapes with spatially organizing plants”

The Department of Coastal Systems (COS, department head dr. ir. Henk W. van der Veer) is looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a strong interest in engineering and (marine) restoration ecology. You should be keen on combining work that requires coastal engineering, ecological experiments, and computer modelling skills.

2018-10-17 14:48:54
VACANCY ID:          2018-078



Vegetated coastal ecosystems provide vital ecosystem services, including flood protection, water and carbon storage, and biodiversity enhancement. Over the last century, however, these ecosystems and their services rapidly declined, often due to anthropogenic disturbance. Although there is wide consensus that these losses should be halted and reversed, declines continue while restoration has proven very difficult. An important cause is that self-sustaining feedbacks generated by habitat modification (ecosystem engineering) by the vegetation itself only work beyond a certain minimum vegetation patch size and density. Below these thresholds, unpredictable losses can occur, while (re-)establishment is hampered.

Although it is now well-known that self-sustaining feedbacks are important in driving coastal ecosystem stability and dynamics, current restoration projects hardly consider these processes and hence do not integrate them into restoration designs. An important issue is that to restore these feedbacks, large amounts of transplant material are required to create sufficiently large and dense vegetation patches. This makes such restoration projects very costly and adds the risk of damaging the donor population due to the large-scale harvesting of vegetation.



In this project, you will develop novel biodegradable “establishment structures” that temporarily simulate conditions inside large and dense vegetation patches, such that a small transplant inside the structure can safely expand to the point where it can sufficiently facilitate itself. Using a 3D-printer, you will develop multiple establishment structures for application 3 different coastal environments – dunes, salt marshes, and mudflats. The structures you design and build will be tailored to the restoration 5 different coastal plants species – 2 dune grasses, 2 salt marsh plants, and 1 seagrass. Your work will consist of designing and building establishment structures using a 3D-printer, and laboratory and field experiments to test the performance of various prototypes.



We are seeking an enthusiastic candidate with a strong interest in engineering and (marine) restoration ecology. You should be keen on combining work that requires engineering and computer modelling skills (3D-printing), with restoration experiments in the field that you will carry out in collaboration with stakeholders including consultancies, contractors, and nature management organizations. You must have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in ecology, (coastal) engineering, biogeomorphology, or a related field. A multidisciplinary interest, the ability to work in a group, and a strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree are essential.



Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for 4 (fulltime) years with an excellent salary, a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus, and flexible work arrangements. You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation. Our labour policies are based on the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers. 



Additional information on job details: prof. dr. ir. T. van der Heide.

For additional information on the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).

For more information about the COS department click here.


Share on:
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Share with a friend:
Mail a friend